Fans express discontent over tickets

by Samuel Gordon

Gopher basketball and hockey fans have expressed resentment in the wake of the raising of season ticket prices.

The plan was finalized near the end of last month and will include a bevy of changes that are expected to generate revenue to be used for athletic scholarships and new facilities.

The changes will take effect in time for the 2012-13 season.

Season ticket holders will have a Gopher Points total. Points will be allocated based on the consecutive years of ticket ownership, for being a graduate, letter winner, alumni association member and for general financial contributions.

Ticket holders with the most points will have first selection at their preferred seats. Prices for preferred seating will start at $750 (a base price $650, with a $100 minimum donation) for menâÄôs basketball and $855 for menâÄôs hockey.

The most expensive seats will require an additional $400 donation for basketball and $300 for hockey. The second highest seats will cost $250 for basketball and $200 for hockey. A $100 donation is the cheapest for preferred seats in both sports.

Football tickets have been distributed in a similar manner since TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009.

No oneâÄôs seats are guaranteed, regardless of how long the ticketholder has held those seats. If someone has a higher priority, they are allowed to take any seats except for student section seats, which will remain intact.

Ticket holders will have until Dec. 31 to increase their point totals. Seat selection will take place in spring of 2012.

Theoretically, each program is set to benefit financially. University officials expect that the basketball team will bring in an additional $1 million and that hockey will make an extra $500,000. That money could help offset expected rising costs within the athletic department. With tuition rising, athletic scholarships are becoming more expensive, too.

Both teams would have to sell out 95 percent of the seats at Williams and Mariucci arenas to generate the projected profit.

Disgruntled fans have flooded online forums as a medium to voice their displeasure with the Gopher Points system. Many of those fans discussed the use of scalpers as a primary ticket source.

Longtime Minnesota hockey fan Eugene Shermoen told the Minnesota Daily itâÄôs likely that heâÄôll give up his season tickets upon the beginning of the point system.

 âÄúWhat IâÄôll probably do is just get single game tickets [in 2012-13] âĦ 300 bucks a seat is almost half the price of a season ticket,âÄù he said.

Shermoen, a ticketholder for nearly two decades, said that he thinks the increase in prices will change the fan base considerably and that the move could drive away other long-time fans.

Basketball fan Bill Coskinen has held basketball tickets for 14 years and said he thinks the system will be fine in the long run.

âÄúI donâÄôt like to have to pay extra money for the seats, but IâÄôm in favor of sports becoming more self-supporting.âÄù Coskinen said.

âÄúI donâÄôt mind paying it. [Gophers menâÄôs basketball] is the best entertainment in the Twin Cities in the winter time.âÄù

Every school in the Big Ten has adopted a preferred seating system for basketball, and several WCHA programs, including North Dakota and Bemidji State, have done the same for hockey.